House Bill 800 – The Further Privatization of “Public” Charter Schools

HB800

Question: When does a supposedly “public” charter-school become a private entity?

Answer: When it opens in North Carolina.

For anyone who believes that public charter schools are actual public schools, there are a plethora of realities that contradict that idealistic view, at least here in the Old North State.

Here, public tax payer money is used to fund the creation of an “alternative” school that caters to a specific population that is not supposedly well serviced in traditional public schools which uses different approaches to instruct students in order to achieve better academic outcomes.

However, they are allowed to run as private businesses without the same oversight. Furthermore, they do not have to use certified teachers. But most importantly, there is no empirical information that shows that charter school in North Carolina perform better than traditional schools even with preferential treatment.

But try telling that to some lawmakers in Raleigh.

Today a bill was advanced that sheds even more light onto the incestuous relationship that private entities have with tax payer money in the name of public welfare.

As reported by Billy Ball on April 24th on NC Policy Watch in an article entitled, “House panel OKs charter school growth bill, corporate “perks” for charter partners (http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2017/04/24/house-panel-oks-charter-school-growth-bill-corporate-perks-charter-partners/#sthash.CiIsfYLY.qgOZXEvz.dpuf),

A divided House Education Committee gave their approval Monday to a pair of controversial charter school bills, one of which will allow charters to expand student enrollment by up to 30 percent with no additional state review of their performance and finances.

The second proposal, House Bill 800, led by Rep. John Bradford, R-Mecklenburg, would speed “perks” for private charter school partners by providing their children enrollment priority for up to half of the school’s population, a provision that critics likened to making public charters into “de facto, segregated private schools.”

That second bill, HB800, was actually called a “jobs’ bill” by Bradford, who according to his website electbradford.com/meet-john/, is

“the President & Founder of Park Avenue Properties, a Cornelius based residential property management and real estate investment firm with operations in five states and eight cities.”

What many people may not know is that a charter school may already reserve up to fifteen percent of its enrollment for children of teachers, employees, and board members.

That’s right. Charter schools have private board members. Public schools do not.

Now Sen. Bradford wants to help create jobs in a right-to-work state by allowing companies to invest in a publicly funded charter school to “buy” enrollment that can take up another 50 percent of the charter schools enrollment.

Rep. Graig Meyer out of Orange County was quoted as saying this bill “really pushes us down the road to privatization that we resisted on charter schools. This allows you to set up the equivalent of a company store, but it’s a company school” (http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/#sthash.MoRg9TFe.dpuf).

Meyer is right. Very right.

House Bill 800 is nothing more than a tax payer funded form of segregation that allows for a public charter school to provide only 35% of its space for the general public.

Does it not seem odd that the very political party that Sen. Bradford aligns himself with actually at one time called funding traditional public schools fully and treating certified teachers as professionals was the equivalent of a “jobs’ bill?”

Those older conservatives looked at that as an investment that attracted business and industry to the state and allowed North Carolina to at one time brag of having the strongest public education system in the southeastern United States.

Now, Sen. Bradford’s idea of a “jobs’bill” is another way of segregating our population with tax payer money because if we live in a right-to –work state, any company can control who goes to its newly “bought school.”

In looking at HB800, it is hard not to think of Betsy DeVos’s comments about money and influence when it comes to crafting public policy. She wrote in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call in 1997.

“I have decided to stop taking offense,” she wrote, “at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment. People like us must surely be stopped.”

When a public school advocate like myself argues that businesses should invest in schools, I do not mean that they “buy” spaces in schools financed by the public to house a select few students that benefits a chosen few. I would like to think that businesses would invest in schools as a public institution that benefits society as a whole.

But what Sen. Braford is offering is divisive and conflicting and should be thought out much more carefully. He was in favor of and voted for HB2 in the spring of 2016 that costs NC a number of jobs, and to his credit he was one of the few on the GOP side to seek a compromise in repealing it this year even when his own party was against it.

He said in the Charlotte Observer on March 8 of this year (“If there’s a way to get rid of HB2, this Mecklenburg lawmaker could help find it”),

“You can’t underestimate the economic impact it’s had on our state,” (http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article137213863.html#storylink=cpy).

But HB800 is not “jobs’ bill.” It’s a “privatization of public schools’ bill.” If Bradford wants to create jobs by ensuring good schools then he should be more willing to fully fund all traditional public schools.

Then he can talk to Chad Barefoot about it.

Sen. Chad Barefoot’s Walking Contradiction on HB13

hb13-nc_orig

The term “walking contradiction” describes someone who says one thing and then acts in a contradictory fashion.  Nowhere do we get a better example of the “walking contradiction” than with politicians who knowingly and blatantly make statements that contradict their own actions or professed value systems.

In North Carolina, we have many of our own walking contradictions. One of them is Sen. Chad Barefoot, the co-chairman of the NC Senate Education Committee which has refused to move on HB13 after the House passed it unanimously.

His reasoning?

“For years, the General Assembly has been sending tens of millions of dollars to districts for new classroom teachers for the purpose of lowering classroom sizes,” he said. “The question we keep asking over and over again is, ‘What did they do with the money? …The data that we have received from the districts varies, and some districts did not fully respond to our information request. What some of the data has shown is that there are districts that did not reduce class sizes with the funding we sent them. Why are they holding art and PE teachers’ jobs hostage for their misallocation of classroom teacher funds?” (http://www.wral.com/law-reducing-class-size-has-music-art-pe-teachers-anxious-about-future-/16628678/).

That’s all he has said. No proof of the data. No explanation of what he has seen. No transparency. If he is to make the claim, then he needs to show us where those “misallocations” really are.

But until then, he is just a “walking contradiction” especially for two specific reasons.

First, the arts, music, and physical education are not “specialties” but “necessities.” In a nation that is spending more on health problems caused by obesity, the need to get kids moving and away from the television might be just as important as core subject material.

Even Louisburg College, “America’s Premier Private Two-Year College”, here in North Carolina understands the value of these “necessities.

https://www.louisburg.edu/

Just look at its introductory screen on the website. There is even a link to the “Humanities” department.

And the description is rather telling.

“The humanities cover a broad range of academic disciplines that have been, and continue to be, a crucial component of the educational goals of Louisburg College. The Humanities Division’s learning objectives of competent written and oral communication, critical thinking, creative thinking, and aesthetic engagement support Louisburg College’s mission statement of building a strong foundation to prepare students for an academic journey that leads to a four year college.”

The Humanities Division includes Art, Communications, Drama, English, Film, Music, Religion/Philosophy, and Spanish.

So “creative thinking” and “aesthetic engagement” are needed t support a “strong foundation to prepare students?” I could not agree more. With classes in art, drama, film, music, and foreign languages it seems that Louisburg values the continuation of a curriculum that teaches the whole body and mind.

And yes, there is a strong athletics department.

And guess who the is the Vice-President of Institutional Advancement as of this past July 1st.

Chad Barefoot
Vice President for Institutional Advancement
919.497.3325
cbarefoot@louisburg.edu

His responsibilities? According to Louisburg’s press release on his hiring (https://www.louisburg.edu/news/barefoot.html),

“Barefoot will serve as chief development officer for the college, which includes directing and overseeing annual fundraising programs and alumni and community relations. He will also serve as a member of the President’s cabinet and as a strategic partner to the Board of Trustees.”

Is it not ironic that Sen. Barefoot raises funds for an institution that is a private industry so that it can fully fund its “necessities” when he is also actually elected to do the same for the public schools and he is stalling a bill called HB13 that if not passed would force public school systems to spend much more money to come into accordance with an ill-conceived mandate while eliminating the very same type of “necessities?”

Secondly, Barefoot’s actions and words concerning HB13 and fully funding public schools show a glaring contradiction to the religious platforms that he and many in state government have been professing while maintaining office.

The predominant spiritual path in the United States, Judeo-Christianity, talks much of the need for music, dance, movement, song, and expression. I think of all of the hymns and musicals my own Southern Baptist church produced, most complete with choreography, which is odd considering that many joke about Baptists’ aversion to dancing.

Even the Bible commands “Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth” (Psalms 96:1), and “Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe” (Psalm 150:4).

Furthermore, the Bible often talks of the body as being a “temple of the Holy Spirit” and even commands Christians to stay physically fit. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Not passing HB13 is egregious. It’s backwards. It’s forcing school districts to make decisions about whether to educate the whole child or part of the child in order to make student/teacher ratios look favorable. It’s either drop those courses or cutting teacher assistants and that would be yet another detrimental blow against public education.

That’s like going out of your way to get plastic surgery, liposuction, and body sculpting to create a new look while ignoring the actual health of your body. Without proper nutrition, sleep, exercise, mental health, and emotional support, we open doors to maladies.

When the Bible that Barefoot reads talks about a temple, it talks about the insides, not just the outsides.

Interestingly enough, many of the private schools and charter schools that receive public money through Opportunity Grants that Barefoot heartily champions have plentiful art programs and physical education opportunities.

So why put these programs for public schools in jeopardy if they reach so many more children?

What our history has shown us time and time again is that we needed music, dance, arts, and physical education to cope and grow as people and we needed them to become better students. To force the removal of these vital areas of learning would be making our students more one-dimensional. It would make them less prepared.

Rather contradictory to what is supposed to happen.

Stuart Egan: Betsy DeVos IS the Status Quo

Diane Ravitch's blog

Stuart Egan, a high school teacher in North Carolina, notes that Betsy DeVos relies on two rhetorical strategies: 1. Pleasant (and meaningless) platitudes; 2. A decided opposition to “the status quo.” She, who insisted at her Senate hearing on being called Mrs. DeVos wants to disrupt traditional public schools, not charters or religious schools.

She loves “great schools.”

She likes schools that “put children first.”

Platitudes.

Calls for disruption.

Who knew that conservatives believed in destroying traditional institutions?

Egan writes:

“Ironically, the conversation about changing the “status-quo” in public education has been fueled more by the business world and politicians who have been altering the terrain of public education with “reforms.”

“A Nation at Risk, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Every Student Succeeds Act, Common Core, SAT, ACT, standardized tests, achievement gap, graduation rates, merit pay, charter schools, parent triggers, vouchers, value added-measurements, virtual schools, Teach For…

View original post 78 more words

Betsy DeVos – Pleasant Platitudes and The “Status Quo Fallacy”

Betsy DeVos’s most recent op-ed may have been intended to smooth over some of the rough edges of her brief tenure as the most unqualified secretary of education ever, but it actually shows her reliance on two rather tiring strategies as it pertains to reforming public education: “pleasant platitudes” and the “status quo fallacy.”

devos oped

The text of DeVos’s cliché’-ridden statement can be found here – http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/04/i_support_all_schools_that_put.html.

The title of the op-ed – “I support all schools that put students first” – is an ignorant, yet pleasant, platitude that not only shows her total disconnect with her duties as the secretary of education, but that her viewpoint of public education is from the exterior because she has never been a part of the system itself as a student, teacher, administrator, parent, or leader.

Why is it ignorant? Because aren’t all schools trying to put students first already?

Some of you may say no. Then I would challenge you to see what is keeping those schools from “putting kids first.”

And “failing test scores” or “not teaching students” are not ample answers because if you really want to see what might be holding students back, it probably has more to do with conditions that surround them in their lives and in their communities rather than just the schools.

Take for example my home state. The school performance grading system here in North Carolina may be a means for a polarizing General Assembly to identify schools that “don’t put students first,” but what that system really shows is that poverty affects communities in such a way that schools in those areas are dealing with many more variables than they are resourced to cope with effectively.

In reality, that system shows where lawmakers are not putting communities first.

And DeVos’s “pleasant platitudes” keep coming in the first few paragraphs even as she opens her op-ed with two personal “facts.”

“In today’s polarized environment, it can often be hard to discern the truth. So allow me to lay out two facts plainly and clearly:

I believe every student should have an equal opportunity to get a great education.

And I believe many of those great educations are, and will continue to be, provided by traditional public schools.”

Those should be very nice words to hear if you are a public school teacher. “Equal opportunity” and “great educations” provided by “traditional public schools” sounds great.

But considering that she opens up with the words “polarized environment,” it is hard not to think of how much DeVos herself has been a part of that very polarization. Here is a woman who has contributed money directly to institutions such as:

  • The Acton Institute
  • The American Enterprise Institute
  • The Council For National Policy
  • The Federalist Society
  • The Heritage Foundation
  • The Mackinac Center For Public Policy

Anyone can research the “unpolarizing” actions of these groups.

There is also the now famous quote she wrote in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call in 1997.

“I have decided to stop taking offense,” she wrote, “at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect something in return. We expect to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues. We expect a return on our investment. People like us must surely be stopped.”

No. That’s not polarizing at all.

Then (back to the op-ed) DeVos lets out her credo. Her driving principle. Her maxim. Her apothegm.

“School choice is pro-parent and pro-student.”

That statement alone has triggered more debate than I could ever begin to tackle in this post, but I will offer Jason Blakely’s recent Atlantic expose’ entitled “How School Choice Turns Education Into a Commodity” as a starting place and invite DeVos to explain how her view of school choice does not create losers in a competitive market. That article can be found here – https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/04/is-school-choice-really-a-form-of-freedom/523089/.

DeVos then tries to pull off a maneuver that many others in the re-forming movement have done to justify their actions in altering the landscape of public education: changing the “status quo.”

“What we will not do, however, is accept the status quo simply because it’s how things have always been done. We owe the rising generation more than that. The complexities they will face in life look very little like the environment of the mid-19th-century, which underpins much of the thinking behind our current educational system.”

And what DeVos and people like her conveniently ignore, forget, or simply misunderstand is that she is actually the “status quo.”

Consider the following quotes:

The heat is already intense not just because it involves the future of our children but also because a lot of money is at stake. Essentially, it’s a debate between those in the education establishment who support the status quo because they have a financial stake in the system and those who seek to challenge the status quo because it’s not serving kids well.” – Mitt Romney in the Washington Post endorsing DeVos, January 6, 2017.

We just can’t accept the status quo in education anymore.” – Sen. Joe Lieberman at DeVos hearing, January 16, 2017.

Asked by George Stephanopoulos what the single most important thing teachers could do to ensure the success of the Common Core, Gates’ answer was simple: The status quo must go. “Grasping the standards requires more than just the standards being present themselves, and disrupting the status quo is key to maximizing individual attention available to each student to ensure their success.”– “Bill Gates: Common Core misunderstood by opponents” (http://www.educationdive.com/news/bill-gates-common-core-misunderstood-by-opponents/239635/).

What Romney, Lieberman, and Gates, and now DeVos consider the “status quo” is intrinsically linked to a final product, measured by standardized testing and other mercurial measurements.

However, the real “status quo” is not really linked to that final product. It is more a reflection of the constant infusion of reform models that have altered the process by which public schools have been able to teach our children. The truth is that the existing state of public education is always being subjected to scrutiny, modification, alteration, and change from outside forces for political or profit-minded reasons.

What I would consider the “status quo” is the commitment to flux and change to the variables that measure student achievement and school success by people outside of the actual education process. And in that regard, I do agree that the status quo should change.

Again and again each has misinterpreted the situation of public education because there really has been no “status quo” in public education. If anything, the terrain of public education has been in a state of constant flux for the past thirty years. With the “Nation at Risk” report to “No Child Left Behind” to the advent of high stakes testing to the innumerable business models infused into education to “Race to the Top” to Common Core to charter school movement to vouchers, the thought of even calling what we have had in our country “status quo” is not just wrong –

It’s ignorant. And it is purposefully done. That’s how we get Betsy DeVos, the most unqualified candidate for secretary of education, as a cabinet member of a president who touts his business acumen.

If one were to simply look at all of the initiatives introduced into public education (both nationally and state-based) while considering changes in curriculum and requirements, that person would see an ever changing landscape.

If one were to track all of the tests that have been constructed, graded, and disseminated by “experts” outside of public education, that person would see that measurements that grade students and schools are like invisible targets constantly being moved without any warning.

Ironically, the conversation about changing the “status-quo” in public education has been fueled more by the business world and politicians who have been altering the terrain of public education with “reforms.”

A Nation at Risk, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Every Student Succeeds Act, Common Core, SAT, ACT, standardized tests, achievement gap, graduation rates, merit pay, charter schools, parent triggers, vouchers, value added-measurements, virtual schools, Teach For America, formal evaluations – there are so many variables, initiatives, and measurements that constantly change without consistency which all affect public schools and how the public perceives those schools.

If there is any “status quo” associated with the public schools, it’s that there are always outside forces acting on the public school system which seek to show that they are failing our kids.

DeVos is one of those forces.

That’s the status quo that should not be accepted.

Phineas Luther Logan – Our Newest Addition to the Family

We are adopting a dog.

We lost our beloved Boo Radley this past winter and have decided to adopt another dog, preferably one that was rescued, young, and chill enough to be around Malcolm but watch him as if he was a member of the pack.

And we found ourselves this fine boy.

finn3

“Jackson” as he was called was rescued from Charleston and he is a Great Pyrenees with a  southern accent. Great Pyrenees were bred to watch over flocks of sheep and goats in the Pyrenees Mountains and are generally regarded as calm, nurturing, and protective of their brood.

And they are huge. This guy is supposedly skinny and getting weight put back on him, but that’s not what really sold us on him.

McK has a gift with animals. She tends to bond with animals quickly, especially dogs. Her Silver Award project for Girl Scouts centered on caring for older dogs. There was no doubt that she and “Jackson” got along.

finn1

It was how he and Malcolm bonded. Malcolm does not bond with animals unless he finds them approachable, and this dog is much bigger than Malcolm. This dog could swallow Malcolm.

But that did not stop Malcolm from going to him, petting him, and putting a stick in his mouth without any insistence from us. Malcolm even called him by name.

And they visited.

Good times.

Better times to come.

And a better name compliments of the McKster and her mother.

“Phineas Luther Logan.”

“Phineas” just sounds cool.

“Luther” is for Edris Elba’s character who kicks British ass and talks sophisticated plus he is apparently easy on the eyes to the women folk in our house.

“Logan” is for Wolverine of the X-Men as McK and I are big fans of the Marvel chain of superheroes.

We’re going to call him “Phin” – easy for Malcolm to say when they pal around.

finn2

 

Next Stop on the “Listening Tour” – NC State Superintendent Mark Johnson vs. The NC State Board of Education

It appears that there may be more bickering in the backrooms of Raleigh than many have been hearing in the other parts of North Carolina.

At least that is what some people claim to be hearing on their own “listening tours.”

Lynn Bonner’s recent April 13th report in the Raleigh News & Observer entitled “NC Republicans fighting among themselves over education, court papers show” opened with the following:

The State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson are on opposite sides of a legal battle over who controls public education.

Lawyers for both sides filed court documents in the case this week, asking a three-judge panel to decide the case in their favor.

The state education board is suing the state over a law passed in December that transfers some of its powers to Johnson, who is serving his first term. Johnson has entered the suit on the state’s side. Republicans run both the legislature and the state education board, and Johnson is a Republican (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article144469134.html#storylink=cpy).

This is actually humorously confusing and quite telling when it comes to the gridlock that power can create.

DPI

So, let me get this straight. Mark Johnson is a republican who was elected in a wave of republican sentiment to take over a job that was held for years by a democrat and then given a lot more power as a state superintendent by a republican super-majority in a special session of the NC General Assembly that was meeting to really address a republican-driven HB2 law that was responsible for a republican losing the governor’s mansion when another republican long shot won the presidency the same night and the first republican mentioned in this chain of thought is now being sued by the republican controlled State Board of Education who claim that the new republican heading DPI is overstepping his authority.

Yep. That’s right. A republican is being sued by republicans after republicans gave him powers in a special session that republicans called to “help repeal” a law passed by republicans that actually cost republicans the governor’s race.

The fact that the State Board of Education is suing to keep powers that it has always had is the right thing to do, but Bonner’s report does highlight a huge disconnect that Mark Johnson has with politics and education.

Bonner states,

Lawyers for the state board said the law is unconstitutional, while Johnson said he should be able to do the job voters elected him to do

Actually, Johnson is wrong there. The “law” was passed after Johnson was elected. Voters did nor elect him to do something that a special session supposedly gave him power to do after November’s election day.

More from Bonner:

Johnson said in an affidavit that the system the state board has for hiring people who report both to him and the board doesn’t work.

Actually, it has worked. It just doesn’t work well enough for those who are wanting to control Johnson as the state superintendent. That’s why there was a special session at the end of the calendar year under the auspices of repealing a damaging HB2 law to grant his office more power than it has ever known when the office is being held by a gentleman who has just as much experience running for office than he does in education itself.

The least experienced person to ever hold the job was to have the most power the job ever had.

Johnson’s quote toward the end of the article is rather telling as well.

“Having both the State Board and the Superintendent of Public Instruction – up to 14 individuals in total – involved in the day-to-day management of DPI slows decision making to a crawl and makes it difficult to implement any changes or be responsive to the needs of the education community.”

What decisions is Mr. Johnson referring to?

What changes are needed to be done for the education community?

And those are not rhetorical questions. Johnson came into the office with really no new ideas to present, just overarching “goals” about less testing and more local control which is ironic with the HB13 debacle going on in the very chamber that gave Johnson so much power in that special session last calendar year.

When Johnson took office in 2017, he announced he was going on a “listening tour” and then release his “legislative agenda” this summer – months after he took office. That means he did not really have any “changes” in mind when he got into office.

Is it not ironic that Johnson has held most of his listening tour behind closed doors and that most of the actions he has been most public in regards to his brief tenure is about how he is trying to establish a form of transparent leadership in the Department of Public Instruction?

Does it not sound like a teacher who walks into a class and wants to just observe the students for a few months while claiming to be gathering information to best instruct those students, but spends most of his time arguing with the administration about what supplies he thinks he should have in his desk?

Maybe, just maybe, the “listening tour” should be more public and also include stops within Raleigh inside DPI.

Mark Johnson did once say on January 5th in the State Board of Education meeting (and his first week in office),

“Every day that we don’t take bold actions for our students is a day that our students lose. Every day that we don’t take bold actions for our teachers is a day that our teachers lose.”

It’s been over three months and the school year is rapidly coming to an end.

Yet what is happening right now is not bold and it is certainly nor benefiting students or teachers.

Passing Off Politicized Propaganda as Pseudo-Academic Research – UnLOCKEing the John Locke Foundation

There are those who cherry-pick data points.

Then there are those who cherry-pick the pits of cherry-picked data points and present that one small factoid as representative of the whole situation, and to do so willingly is nothing more than passing off politicized propaganda as pseudo-academic research.

Consider Dr. Terry Stoops’s latest attempt to marry Art Pope – libertarian, John Locke Foundation ideology with North Carolina public school reality concerning numbers of teachers who cross state lines to teach in other states.

In an article for The John Locke Foundation for which he serves as the VP for Research and the Director of Educational Studies, Stoops states,

“Public school advocacy organizations and their allies contend that North Carolina is no longer a desirable destination for teachers. They claim that Republican policies, both those related to public education and otherwise, have sullied our state’s reputation in the eyes of the nation’s educators. Nevertheless, data show that North Carolina continues to welcome many more out-of-state teachers than it loses to other states. Even so, lawmakers should consider additional policies that make it easier to ensure that North Carolina public schools can recruit and retain the best teachers in the nation” (https://www.johnlocke.org/research/north-carolina-a-destination-for-teachers/).

And dammit, he’s right. We do see more certified teachers from out of state come to NC to get state certification than the converse. The way he makes it sound, public school advocates like myself and my allies should just shut up because we obviously are a great place for teachers because so many more are coming to teach here than we are sending to other states.

Dr. Stoops even gave a nice data table from the Department of Public Instruction.

stoops1

But Dr. Stoops purposefully neglects to tell readers the rest of the story when it comes to “teacher recruitment” and “teacher retention.”

Simply put, when a teacher “leaves” the state of North Carolina as a teacher, it may not be because that teacher is going to teach in another state. In fact, when a teacher “resigns” from a teaching profession in North Carolina, he/she is asked by DPI a reason for leaving. And even then, that teacher is not bound to give a reason.

“To pursue a teaching job in another state” is only one explanation attached to 28 official “Self-Reported Reasons For Leaving” a teaching position in North Carolina.

I repeat. There is a list of 28 possible answers, or rather reasons with multiple explanations (+50) attached to them, that a teacher can SELF-REPORT to DPI. Teaching in another state is but one of many reasons for teachers resigning positions.

To say that North Carolina is a desirable destination for teachers in light of one data point in a myriad of variables is simply irresponsible, especially from a researcher whose background includes a doctoral degree from one of the top public institutions in the nation in a state which just stopped the growth of charter schools as a means of reaffirming its pledge to public schools.

One simply needs to go to DPI’s website and access the report entitled “Teachers Leaving the Profession Data.” In fact, it is released every year. You may access that page here: http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/educatoreffectiveness/surveys/leaving/.

The report for 2015-2016, a 36-page .PDF file, contains massive amounts of information concerning the “desirability” of North Carolina as a state to teach. But Consider Appendix A: Self-Reported Reasons For Leaving.

stoops2stoops3

That’s 5 categories, 28 reasons, and 60 possible explanations.

Dr. Stoops use of “Table 1: Outgoing and Incoming Teachers By School Year” lists “1556 NC licenses granted to out-of-state teachers” while “only “828” resigned to teach in another state for a difference of 728 teachers.

But according to DPI where Dr. Stoops received the above information, we as a state saw an overall state attrition rate of 8,636. Refer to the below data table from the DPI report mentioned beforehand.

stoops4

When one looks at these numbers along with the population growth that NC has experienced, the number of retiring teachers (534 of whom retired with reduced benefits which suggests early retirement), and the shrinking numbers of teacher candidates in our public and private university programs, Dr. Stoops’s assertion in his article comes across less as academic research and more like propaganda – which is what he is paid for.

Take a closer look at that table.

stoops5

Those 828 teachers in the highlighted line are the same 828 teachers in the first line of the table Dr. Stoops uses as a premise in his leaky argument.

Those 828 teachers represent less than 10% of those who resigned from a teaching profession in North Carolina.

And Dr. Stoops uses that as a foundation to argue that NC is an enviable place to come and teach? Where rural counties cannot keep teachers because local supplements and limited resources cannot compete with other more affluent areas? Where many school systems still have teacher shortages? Where a General Assembly stubbornly keeps helpful bills like HB13 from being passed? Where a Duke University report literally exposed a shoddy voucher system? Where a charter school expansion plan has gone unregulated?

Then it’s a foundation of sand and not stone. And with climate change, there’s no telling how fast those sandy foundations will erode.

But of course, the John Locke Foundation ignores most of the variables in that issue as well. Just read their “Desmog Blog” (https://www.desmogblog.com/john-locke-foundation).

Open Letter to Sen. Chad Barefoot Concerning His Words on HB13

Dear Sen. Barefoot,

Your recent comments concerning the stalled House Bill 13 that would help local school districts navigate a stubborn legislative obstacle is yet another example of why so many people who advocate for the constitutionally protected public school system view you as hypocritical and piously partisan.

While Guilford County has already served notice to many teacher assistants about their possible non-renewal, systems such as the one I work for (Winston-Salem / Forsyth County) are waiting to see if waivers will be given by DPI.

As reported by WRAL on April 6th,

Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, co-chair of the Senate Education/Higher Education committee, says lowering class size is a priority.

“For years, the General Assembly has been sending tens of millions of dollars to districts for new classroom teachers for the purpose of lowering classroom sizes,” he said. “The question we keep asking over and over again is, ‘What did they do with the money?'”

Lawmakers requested financial data from school districts in the state and are analyzing it to try to get that answer.

“The data that we have received from the districts varies, and some districts did not fully respond to our information request,” Barefoot said. “What some of the data has shown is that there are districts that did not reduce class sizes with the funding we sent them. Why are they holding art and PE teachers’ jobs hostage for their misallocation of classroom teacher funds?” (http://www.wral.com/law-reducing-class-size-has-music-art-pe-teachers-anxious-about-future-/16628678/).

First, did you remember that teachers of classes for vital subjects such as art, music, and physical education are not dictated by a particular state allotment and ,therefore, do not count into student-teacher ratios for core subjects in the early grades?

Also, how will help these schools build more physical facilities to house the vast numbers of new classrooms that will be needed?

But more importantly, can you explain how your comments are not duplicitous when taken as a part of a bigger conversation?

You mentioned “tens of millions of dollars” over a period of “years.” Or at least, that is your assumption. The truth is that over the last several years we have seen a lower per-pupil expenditure for our students and an average teacher salary that still ranks in the last tier within the nation all while this state has experienced a boom in population.

But you talk about “tens of millions of dollars” that need to be accounted for so thoroughly that you are willing to hold LEA’s hostage.

If you want to look at how money is being spent (or not spent) with a fine-tooth comb, then maybe look at the Opportunity Grants program.

Just this past summer, you introduced a bill to further increase vouchers in NC under a system that many in the nation have found to be one of the most opaque in the country. Adam Lawson from the Lincoln Times News reported in May of 2016,

Senate Bill 862, filed by Republican state Sens. David Curtis (Lincoln, Iredell, Gaston), Chad Barefoot (Franklin, Wake) and Trudy Wade (Guilford) calls for 2,000 additional Opportunity Scholarship Grants to be available each school year beginning in 2017-18.

That comes with a $10 million annual rise in cost, from $34,840,000 in 2017-18 until 2027-28, when taxpayers would begin paying nearly $135 million for vouchers on a yearly basis. According to the Charlotte Observer, the state has spent just $12 million on the program this school year, 93 percent of which has gone to faith-based schools.

Actually, legislation that you championed will funnel nearly one BILLION dollars into North Carolina’s voucher program within the next ten years. And what results has the state seen from that venture so far?

I would invite you to look at the Duke Law School of Law’s Children’s Law Center’s recent March 2017 report called SCHOOL VOUCHERS IN NORTH CAROLINA: THE FIRST THREE YEARS.

Duke study

The entire report can be found here:  https://law.duke.edu/childedlaw/School_Vouchers_NC.pdf.

But just to give you a flavor of what the Opportunity Grants have done according to one of the more respected research universities in the nation, consider the following excerpted observations:

  • Approximately 93% of the vouchers have been used to pay tuition at religious schools (p.3).
  • Based on limited and early data, more than half the students using vouchers are performing below average on nationally-standardized reading, language, and math tests. (p.3).
  • It is poorly designed, however, to promote better academic outcomes for children and is unlikely to do so (p.3).
  • The most typical size for a participating school is between 100 and 250 students. However, 33 schools (7%) have ten or fewer students, with another 42 (9%) enrolling 20 or fewer students (p.8).
  • Although it is not an “apples-to-apples” comparison, the most recent data shows that comparable students who remained in public schools are scoring better than the voucher students on national tests (p.12).
  • In comparison to most other states, North Carolina’s general system of oversight of private schools is weak. No accreditation is required of private schools (p.13).
  • Unlike some laws, the law creating the Opportunity Scholarship Grant Program does not set out its purpose (p.15).
  • In fact, there is no requirement that the participating private schools meet any threshold of academic quality. (p.15-16).
  • THE LEGISLATIVE DECISION TO EXEMPT VOUCHER STUDENTS FROM PARTICIPATING IN THE STANDARD STATE END-OF-GRADE TESTS MEANS THAT NO RESEARCHER WILL EVER BE ABLE TO MAKE AN “APPLES-TO-APPLES” COMPARISON BETWEEN PUBLIC SCHOOL AND VOUCHER STUDENTS (p.18).
  • The North Carolina program allows for participation in the program by children who are not in failing schools and by private schools that do not offer a more academically promising education (p.19).

If you are analyzing the data from districts that have spent these “tens of millions” of dollars you mentioned earlier, are you analyzing the data from this report that spends this much taxpayer money?

Are you also analyzing recent improprieties of the use of monies in schools that use vouchers like Trinity Christian in Fayetteville? (http://ajf.org/employee-states-largest-recipient-school-voucher-funds-accused-embezzling-nearly-400000-public-tax-dollars/). The financial reports that were sent by Trinity were also incomplete (https://www.ednc.org/2017/04/07/serious-questions-arise-states-largest-voucher-school/) . It would be interesting to see if the financial reports from the suspected systems that you have focused on in your recent investigation, but you will not identify them.

And if analysis is so important to you to ascertain how money is being spent, then would you also not question analysis that talks about how your own actions have cost our state much more than “tens of millions of dollars?”

Your zealous defense of HB2 has according to many outlets cost the state of North Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars. A recent AP report even put that figure at over 3.5 BILLION (http://abc11.com/news/ap-hb2-estimated-to-cost-north-carolina-$376b/1819978/).

While lawmakers such as Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and possibly yourself may question the validity of the AP’s report, they were very transparent in their findings. And that does not even account for what may have been invested in North Carolina but never made it into public record.

Even if half of that number is correct, the loss to our state is tremendous.

Yet you remain steadfast in helping stall a bill that would greatly aid public school systems and greatly help students.

But in light of the actions you have taken and the comments that you have made that are simply rooted in biased politics, I am more prone to believe in the transparent analysis of Duke University or the Associate Press or even the unanimous passing of a bill in the highly divided North Carolina General Assembly House of Representatives (HB13) than your words.

Malcolm’s Season Opener  – 2 for 2 with 27 RBI’s, 4 SB’s, and some Cheetos

The Chellenger League started today. 

So out came the red helmet, the red coat, and the new red glove and off to the Watertower Field at Wake Forest. 

All that practice is paying off. 

Here’s the first at-bat. 


As you can see – a screamer up the middle. Then the allusive “forget first, going to second base” maneuver works. 

Also notice the hiking up of the pants while running. 

That’s speed. 

To burn. 

Here’s the second at-bat. 

​​​

Same tactic except a more direct route to second base. 

After each side winning we had Cheetos which made Malcolm’s face as red as his helmet. 

Hey Wake Forest Fans – This Is The Team To Watch

I know. We made it to a bowl game and won. And I am excited about what we may do next year.

And we made it to the dance for the first time in years. If Collins comes back, the Deacs may have a chance to make a lot more noise next year.

But you need to start paying attention to the Diamond Deacs.

Last night, our boys of spring went to second-ranked Louisville and handed them their first home loss of the year.

Last weekend, they won a series in Coral Gables against the University of Miami for the first time ever.

They are ranked in every major college poll in the nation.

They lead the nation in home runs.

They have beaten four ranked teams.

They beat last year’s national champions on the road.

It’s been a while since we have been to a bowl game, gone to the dance, and hosted a regional.

That, and I really like this retro-looking jersey they are wearing this year.

deacsbaseball

Go Deacs!